New York 1984
Week 1, Recuperating
We left our heroes in possession of their tenth diadem segment. It fits into the diadem without further fuss and Pfusand tries the thing on to get the next set of thirteen coordinates. The numbers look familiar to Chris and Sophie. Alag notes that several of the coordinates indicate a spatial position near Earth. Daewen opines that it IS Earth, main timeline, early technical period. The Serving System refines this guess to some time in the 20th century. Several of us murmur, "Please don't let it be Hong Kong AGAIN!" or words to that effect.
Daewen opens a window on the coordinates, revealing a 20th-century city -- crowded and littered, with signs in English. Sophie considers the costumes brazen and tasteless, but then Sophie's Victorian.
Daewen steers the window into an alley and changes it to a door so Chris can step out for a watch reading. It's some time in January, 1984. [I'll just point out that the players are already playing this game at this date.]
Levitating a garbage-wrapping newspaper out of a nearby dumpster ("Do Not Play On Or Around"), and using more levitation to hold and unfold the distasteful object, Chris determines that we are in the New York city-state, or city, or state. (He's 31st-century Brazilian by birth, and his history for these minutia isn't that good. Combine this with general paranoia about landing in 1984, of all years, and there is reason for concern.) He takes the paper in, where we quickly photograph it for later image enhancement, then toss it out into the alley again. Aside from the place and date, the paper is very uninformative. Various people are running for president of someplace called Iowa; that's it. Looks like mainstream Earth.
Around now, Daewen remarks that she is having a lot of trouble keeping the door from drifting. It seems to be that persistent flutter in the 6th and 7th dimensional controls. Abruptly, the door fails.
Tom suggests we mount another expedition in search of the geometry engine, since it is giving us an immediate problem, but the others veto this: it's dangerous out in the wild marches of the pantope, as Aphron's disappearance and our last expedition proved. Also, fixing our geometry engine might just make us more predictable and thus detectable to the worldbenders.
Cantrel (who has just discovered a 50-lb. bag of cement in his closet), inquires of the Serving System about 20th-century weaponry. He learns that projectile guns are the favored weapon, but that they are heavily regulated in our target area, as are weapons in general.
While Cantrel is doing that, Tom reconnects the door so Chris and Sophie can step out into the alley for a diadem detector reading. On the first try, the door snaps shut just as Chris and Sophie start to walk through. We stabilize the door a bit by having Pfusand thrust a broomstick handle through it while Chris and Sophie make their exit. Tom returns the door to window, planning to reconnect in 30 seconds.
Chris and Sophie get a nice clear reading -- almost straight down, curiously enough. They then have to wait about 15 minutes for the door to show up again. Back on the bridge, Tom is dismayed to see Chris and Sophie skitter impatiently back and forth in the alley, like images on a video set on fast-forward. He regains control of the time scale, they hop on board, and we disconnect.
Daewen, who has been studying her own set of controls, thinks there is more to this than just the old dimensional flutter on 6 and 7. Tom asks if it might be some subtle form of timelock, or interference from the segment itself. Daewen says it might, or someone could be using Dicing or a similar effect to shift the probabilities under us. Might the someone notice an attempted counter-dicing? They might, if they were very good at it and very paranoid.
Cantrel suggests that the detector might have been registering a segment on the far side of the planet from New York; after all, our coordinates for the Instrumentality brought us out at orbital altitudes over its planet. Accordingly, we flip the window the New York's antipode, somewhere in the Indian Ocean, in the middle of the night. Chris and Sophie take the grav sled (recently repaired by Alag) out for a reading. The door is disgustingly stable and the reading is very, very faint. It sure looks like the segment is under New York, in the midst of some interference.
Chris and Sophie volunteer to go on a reconnaissance mission. The last segment was taxing, we were terraforming just yesterday, they haven't had a proper honeymoon, and we have, as we often note, all the time in the world. Cantrel doubts the utility of a recon mission. He wants to bail out and go hunting. Chris explains that we generally do better when we have some information, he's tired, and it will only take ten minutes, pantope-time. Cantrel harumphs. Chris says sharply, "Cantrel, we need a vacation!" "Oh!" says Cantrel, "Why didn't you say so?"
Chris and Sophie decide that Washington will make a nice vacation. It's been a century since Sophie has been there, and a millennium before Chris has. Chris reads up on the time period from the history books, and they pack their bags. Sophie makes up some reasonable looking clothes in kevlar, and some jewelry to sell for cash. Chris packs his guitar, two kilograms of gold, and a couple of pistols (cap-and-ball revolvers, as they are period). In spite of weaponry being tightly controlled, he feels better with arms. Sophie's accent should be period enough, and Chris's will be acceptable if he remembers to talk like Sophie, Lorelei, and Victoria -- who all hail from that general time period. Nonetheless, they take babel fish, just to cover everything.
The drop-off point is Laurel, Maryland, not far from Washington DC. They consult the yellow pages to find a pawn shop, where Sophie sells her jewelry at prices that sound, to her, fabulous, until she sees what a century of inflation has done to the prices of everything else. They still sound good compared to what they've seen while window shopping. They also get directions to a coin dealer who can buy the two kilos of raw gold Chris brought.
While they wait for the flabbergasted coin dealer to assay and buy their gold, they take rooms at the Hilton (a hotel name they've both heard of) and start buying newspapers and books on recent history. According to the newspapers, the gold should bring them about $40,000. When they are offered about $16,000, they take it. It is more than enough for what they have planned.
A sore point for Sophie is that there is no piano on the pantope. There are a few keyboards, sure, but they don't have the right feel (they feel like they have a further throw than they really do, among other things) nor the right resonance. They decide to buy a piano.
Pianos being difficult to carry, they decide to get a light truck, too. Laurel has many car dealerships along US Rt. 1, so shopping is easy. It turns out that the paperwork required is less when they offer to pay cash. Chris is confident that a little glamour can fake up the paperwork they do need, but he decides that it might be useful to have some real paperwork, so they set out to get a driver's license, too.
Chris fakes a birth certificate from Nebraska. It's far enough away to be easily faked (especially with a model to work from in the local library), and he like the sound of the name. Since he's almost thirty, he makes the date be 1954. They take it at the DMV, but he fails the driver's test the first time -- in his time, groundcars float or have pivots on the wheels, and he's never parallel parked the hard way. He only succeeds on the second try by mixing his parallel parking with a little levitation and glamour.
They devote the rest of their recon time to researching clothes and buying magazines on fashion, guns, martial arts, and news. They pick up two weeks worth of the Washington Post, the Washington Times, the New York Times, and the Baltimore Sun. They also get issues of the Weekly World News, The Star, and the National Inquirer. They are reasonably certain that the latter three are fiction magazines, but it's hard to tell. Chris also gets a bunch of music recordings. This is an interesting time for him because two of the great masters of guitar playing, AndrÚ Segovia and Eric Clapton are alive in this time.
They also take in some of the museums of Washington, particularly the Air and Space museum and the Museum of History and Technology.
Tom is a little surprised when he opens the pantope door a minute later (for him) on a quiet country road outside Laurel, to find Chris and Sophie in a with a Toyota pickup truck, a baby grand piano, and a load of magazines in the back. He has to shift to the cargo bay to accommodate the truck; we put the piano in the conservatory, as it takes up a lot of room in Chris and Sophie's suite, and besides the acoustics are better there.
Chris volunteers to go back out for something called a "mini-van," that being a groundcar with a lot of room for passengers and luggage. Cantrel, the ever impatient and paranoid, questions the usefulness of such a beast and advises against it.
We sneak up on New York in a series of jumps and determine that the interference effect begins somewhere inside the city. We then spend seven weeks in the pantope, training and reading magazines. Sophie runs off Lorien cloaks for several of us, some more period clothes, and gives Tom a semi-fictionalized recording of his encounter with the phoenix on Turtle World. It's an interesting recording, using a mix of elven glamour and a home-made holographic system. Chris spends some of the training time getting his guitar playing polished for this period and giving music lessons, presumably in case the segment is in the possession of Segovia.
For four of those seven weeks, Cantrel is not on the pantope. He got impatient, so we let him out at some point in the suburbs, then got through our month in a few seconds of Cantrel's time. Next week, the pantope crew meets the Big Apple.
Copyright © 1998, Jim Burrows. All Rights Reserved.